All sliding centre recommendations in Whistler track safety audit will be adopted 

International federations also working on recommendations in Whistler report

PHOTO COURTESY OF CANADIAN LUGE ASSOCIATION BY DAVID MCCOLM - SAFER SLIDING: Whistler Sport Legacies will be implementing recommendations aimed at its operations.

Whistler Sport Legacies will be implementing all 29 recommendations aimed at its operations in the just-release independent safety audit on the Whistler Sliding Centre.

The 350-page report, which provides a never-before in-depth technical analysis of the world's fastest track, is a game-changer for sliding sports, according to WSL president and CEO Keith Bennett.

"The recommendations moving forward I think will really benefit both this track and the sliding sports," said Bennett.

The audit outlines 40 recommendations overall to improve athlete safety on the track, among other things.

It includes using "visual indicators" on the track to eliminate the "white tube" effect athletes experience as they travel down the track as well as continually evaluating the track configuration and crash outcomes as they occur.

It also recommends that WSL install the standard safety barrier system at all corners and locations along the length of the track where there is no control on the free flowing path of the sled.

"Significant safety barriers have been put up right from day one but they've been augmented over the years, particularly over the last two years as we've taken over the track," said Bennett.

"It has been taken care of but it's part of our continuous monitoring process that if we see anything or observe that might indicate we need more safety barriers, we'll do that immediately."

While many of the recommendations are targeted at WSL, the international sliding federations are also highlighted for changes.

Those include, among other things, providing more detailed track design criteria - beyond top speeds and g-force exposure - to guide track designers, and that the federations develop formal criteria defining an athlete's competence to compete on a specific track.

"We've offered our full support to the international sliding federations for the implementation of the remaining audit recommendations," added Bennett.

In a press release Svein Romstad, secretary general for the International Luge Federation (FIL) confirmed their continued commitment to working with the sliding centre.

"We welcome the report and take it seriously as athletes' safety is of utmost importance for us," he said. "The recommendations contained in the Safety Audit reflect the direction that our organization is already heading in. In fact, we have already implemented some of the advice and follow-up on the other recommendations is work in progress."

The report comes out of recommendations in the BC Coroners report on the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run in the 2010 Olympic Games.

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